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In Test Management Last updated: March 7, 2023
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Ruby is one of the most popular server-side programming languages due to its simple syntax and flexibility. This object-oriented language is mostly used in web development, data science, DevOps & automation, web scraping, and the creation of static sites. 

However, a Ruby development environment can never be enough without tests. Luckily, there exist various testing frameworks designed for the Ruby programming language. 

In this article, we will define a Ruby testing framework, discuss why testing is important when creating Ruby apps, and highlight some of the best Ruby testing frameworks you should use.

What is a Ruby testing framework? 

A testing framework is a tool that evaluates and verifies that a software application or product performs as expected. 

A typical Ruby testing framework has a toolkit to help developers and QA engineers write tests for Ruby-based applications. 

Testing comes in different forms, such as regression testing, functional testing, unit testing, and usability testing, to mention a few. 

Testing a Ruby is important due to the following:

  • Identifies security threats: When a Ruby application goes through thorough testing, it is easy to detect security bugs that might compromise user data and private information. 
  • Saves on money: Fixing bugs can be expensive when an app is already running. Testing identifies bugs early enough to be fixed before an app or update is rolled out. 
  • Customer satisfaction: End users are always the focal point in development. Usability tests ensure that software applications work as expected and satisfy customer needs. 
  • Maintains a good reputation for the company: Competition will always be there in the business world. An app without bugs is likely to attract good reviews from end users. 

These are some of the best Ruby testing frameworks


Minitest is a testing framework that supports behavior-driven development, test-driven development, benchmarking, and mocking. It comes with a complete testing suite. 



  • Lightweight: Compared with other frameworks such as RSpec, Minitest is light but still fits the bill. 
  • Integrates with other frameworks: You can use Minitest with frameworks such as Sinatra and Ruby on Rails and testing frameworks such as RSpec in the same app. 
  • Comes with many extensions: For instance, the minitest-colorize extension colorizes the outputs to show which tests are failing and which are passing. 
  • Backward compatibility: Minitest can be used with newer and older Ruby versions. 

Minitest is packaged as a gem. 

You can include in the gemfile as;

gem 'minitest', '~> 5.18'

You can then install it using this command;

gem install minitest


Test-unit is a Ruby unit testing framework from the xUnit family. Engineers can write tests, check results, and automate tests. 



  • Definition of test cases: You can define individual test cases using Test-Unit. Every individual test case can include multiple tests. 
  • Test Suites: You can group test cases into test suites and then run them as a single item. 
  • Assertions: This framework has various assertions you can use to check the behaviour of your code during the testing process. 
  • Formatting of outputs: You can define output methods such as XML and summary while using Test::Unit. 

Test-unit is bundled as a ruby gem. 

You can include on the gemfile as;

gem 'test-unit', '~> 3.5', '>= 3.5.7'

Then install it using this command;

gem install test-unit


RSpec is a behaviour-driven development Ruby testing framework. The toolkit comprises different libraries designed to work together or with other independent testing tools. 


Key features 

  • RSpec-core: It is the runner behind this framework. This tool offers a rich command line and an API for code organization. 
  • RSpec-mocks: offers multiple fake objects, allowing you to control the test environment in which your tests run. 
  • RSpec-expectations: Has a readable API to show the expected outcomes. 
  • Rspec-rails: You can use RSpec to test your Rails application instead of the inbuilt test framework. 

RSpec is a free testing tool and comes as a Ruby gem. 

You can include in the gemfile as;

gem 'rspec', '~> 3.12'

Use this command to install it;

gem install rspec


Capybara is a Ruby testing framework that tests a web app’s functionality by simulating how users interact with the application. 



  • Easy to get started: If you are working with Rails and Rack applications, you do not need to configure anything, as Capybara works as it is. 
  • Works with different drivers: You can use Capybara with pure Ruby drivers, Selenium or Webkit. 
  • Powerful synchronization features: Developers don’t have to wait for asynchronous processes to run manually. 
  • Intuitive API: Its API mimics the normal language that clients use. 
  • Easy integration with other test frameworks: You can connect Capybara with RSpec, Test::Unit, and other test frameworks. 

Capybara is an open-source application packaged as a Ruby gem. 

Include it on the gemfile as;

gem 'capybara', '~> 3.38'

Use this command to install the gem;

gem install capybara


Cucumber is a testing framework that supports behaviour-driven Ruby development. The toolkit can be used on Ruby and the Ruby on Rails framework. All the scenarios in Cucumber are written in Gherkin syntax. 



  • Simple syntax: Gherkin text comes in plain-text format, making it understandable even for non-techies. 
  • Extensible: You can improve the functionality of Cucumber using various plugins. 
  • Integrates with other testing tools: You can integrate Cucumber with testing frameworks such as RSpec and Capybara to extend your taste cases. 
  • Support for Continuous Integration: You can integrate Cucumber with tools such as CircleCI and Jenkins. 

Cucumber exists as a gem and is free for use. 

You can include on the gemfile as;

gem 'cucumber', '~> 8.0'

Use this command to install it on your app;

gem install cucumber

Shoulda Matchers

Shoulda Matchers is a testing framework that offers Minitest- and RSpec-compatible one-liners that test the functionality of a Ruby on Rails app. 



  • Simple: The tests on Shoulda Matchers are just one-liners. If these tests were manually written, it would take much time. 
  • Has some existing matchers: Over 30 existing matches developed over time can be used to test your app. 
  • Integrates with other frameworks: Functional testing is just one part of the testing process. This testing framework integrates with frameworks such as RSpec and Minitest for complete testing. 
  • Helpful error messages: The testing library specifies the errors to help developers take action. 

Shoulder Matchers is free and comes as a Ruby gem. 

You can include it on your gemfile as;

gem 'shoulda-matchers', '~> 5.3'

Use this command to install it on your app; 

gem install shoulda-matchers


Spinach is a high-level behaviour-driven development testing framework. It uses the Gherkin language to help developers define executable specifications for their applications. 



  • Comes with data generators: The framework has built-in generator methods to help you generate test cases for your app. 
  • Integrates with other test frameworks: You can integrate Spinach with the RSpec test suite. 
  • Step reusability: You can define and reuse a step in your tests across your application. 

Spinach is packaged as a gem. 

You can add it on the gemfile as;

gem 'spinach', '~> 0.10.1'

Use this command to install Spinach on your app;

gem install spinach -v 0.10.1


Howitzer is an acceptance Ruby testing framework for web applications. Developers and QA engineers love this framework as it is fast in setting up a development infrastructure. 



  • Integrates with CI/CD tools: You can use Howitizer with CircleCI and Jenkins to test your app during the build process. 
  • Cross-platform: This tool supports most browsers, such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox. 
  • Allows split testing: When using Howitzer, you can split your code into small pieces for testing purposes. 

Howitzer is packaged as a Ruby gem. 

You can include Howitzer on your gemfile as;

gem 'howitzer', '~> 2.6', '>= 2.6.1'

This is how to install it on your app; 

gem install howitzer

RSpec Clone 

RSpec Clone is a minimalistic framework that allows developers to write executable examples of their code should behave. RSpec inspires this tool. 



  • Simple: This framework comes with its Domain Specific Language mimicking normal conversations.
  • Allows grouping of test cases: You can use describe and context sections to group example groups. 

RSpec clone is a Ruby gem.

You can add it to your gemfile as;

gem 'r_spec-clone', '~> 1.7'

Use this command to install it;

gem install r_spec-clone


Turnip is an acceptance testing framework. It combines the features of RSpec and Gherkin to perform its test. 



  • Supports both server-side and client-side tests: This framework can perform end-to-end tests. 
  • Grouping of tests: This framework integrates with the RSpec test suite, allowing developers to declare text contexts and groups. 
  • Mocks: After integrating with RSpec, Turnip gets access to the rspec-mocks gem. Mocks, in testing, are objects that simulate the behavior of real objects. 

Turnip is a Ruby gem. 

You can include it on the gemfile as;

gem 'turnip', '~> 4.4'

Install the gem using this command; 

gem install turnip


The need for testing Ruby applications cannot be stressed enough. Knowing the above testing frameworks will help you understand the development process better if you are a Ruby developer or intend to become one.  Determining what you want to achieve with the tests is the first step toward selecting your application’s ideal Ruby testing framework. 

Check some of the best Ruby frameworks to create your next web application. 

  • Titus Kamunya
    Titus is a Software Engineer and Technical Writer. He develops web apps and writes on SaaS, React, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby and Ruby on Rails read more
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